Help with integrating two flocks...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by materum, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. materum

    materum Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 23, 2009
    So I have two flocks: (1) 4 Buff Orps and 4 Leghorns, (2) an Australorp, a RIR, an Ameraucana, and a Buff Orp. They first flock is about 10 months old, the second flock about 5 months old. I've tried letting them free range in my backyard while putting them together at night, but the flocks just seem to stay on opposite sides of the yard, never interacting with one another. I've also tried putting both groups in an enclosed new spot while I carefully monitor them, but it seems the birds from the first flock. while pecking all the birds of the second flock, have a particular interest in destroying the Ameraucana (the smallest and most panicky of the bunch). Both flocks have been raised right next to one another for at about 2-3 months now (so I dont think quarantining should be a problem), and though the runs in which they were raised arent adjacent to one another, they are still close enough for each flock to be able to see one another.

    All that having been said, what do you guys think would be a good way to integrate the flocks? If you could provide an estimate of how long the method you propose would take, that would be fantastic [​IMG] Time is somewhat of the essence here, as none of my family members are able to watch over the birds for a period longer than a few days at a time (college and work).
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  2. Gonzo

    Gonzo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 25, 2009
    Southwestern, In
    I hope someone can answer this.. I want to add to mine, and will be faced with the same problem. [​IMG]
  3. BeardedLadyFarm

    BeardedLadyFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2009
    Cobleskill NY
    There will always be some picking even in birds that have lived together for a long time. They have to work out their pecking order. So unless it gets bloody or brutal, I'd let them sort it out. Make sure they have plenty of room when they're enclosed together. A couple of bales of straw to hide behind and an extra feeder or waterer have helped me introduced young birds.

    The bottom bird will always get picked on more than others, but that's just the way it works. I've heard of some people isolating any particularly bossy birds for a few days to mix up the pecking order. It knocks them down a few notches.

    And when mine range, they all stay with their "friends."
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    All I can tell you is my experience. I first got a flock of 7 that consisted of three 1-month-olds and four 1-week-olds. Of the 7, four were boys, three girls. Six weeks after I got them, I received my back-order of three day-old chicks. The chicks were inside in a brooder for four weeks, I spent a week integrating them outside (increasingly longer times outdoors during the day then back in at night) and they were finally outside full-time at five weeks old.

    Now, I have no run. I have a coop, which I open in the morning, they free-range my backyard during the day, and then I shut the coop at night. However I do have a little hutch-type run that the guinea pig used to use when we put her outside on warm days. So - at first, the new chicks went into the hutch-run during the day so that the big kids could see and interact but not hurt them. This lasted about two weeks, and then we started to let the little girls out for supervised free-range time. The big chooks pretty much ignored them except to chase them away from food/water. (The solution to this is of course to put out multiple feeders/waterers so that no one goes hungry or thirsty).

    Honestly, non-integration remained the status quo for about two months. The big chooks never hurt the little ones but also didn't allow them to join their flock. So I had two separate flocks that each free-ranged different parts of the backyard. At night the little girls would go into a cat carrier in the coop, again so that they couldn't be hurt by the bigger ones when I wasn't around to supervise.

    A couple of months ago we processed the three eldest roos and noticed an immediate change. Once there was only one roo, the little girls started hanging out with the rest of the flock a little more. It was still not unusual to see them separate but it became more common to see all seven in the same area of the yard.

    Last Sunday we had to process the last roo because he was just becoming too noisy (and I live in a suburban area). And, in the past week, I've noticed that I finally have a fully integrated flock of six hens who all hang out together, seemingly all the time.

    The only advice I can offer is the above-mentioned feeders/waterers. Just make sure that ALL the chooks have access to both, because the most common thing is for the established flock to try to keep the newcomers away from both. Aside from that, it just takes time. I was surprised by how much time - a full three months in my case. I do think processing the roos hastened the full integration though, so in another situation, I can imagine it taking even longer.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by